Friday, April 8, 2011

Bacon Jalapeño Grilled Cheese served w/ Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

A Rainy Day Favorite:
Crappy weather should never mean a crappy meal. In fact, I love to cook those all-day type meals like braised short ribs, a pork shoulder, or pot roast on a rainy day. I can usually be seen standing over a big pot of something simmering, in sweat pants and slippers, at hours of the day when that outfit is typically a faux pas. However, we all don't have that kind of time or risk-taking fashion sense to take on these types of meals on any day other than a Sunday. So, here's an easier and quicker-cooking meal that packs a ton of flavor and none of the added gloom from the weather! Just one bite will not only awaken your taste buds, but give you a warm and soothing feeling that makes you feel like you're in your favorite sweats, snuggled up on a couch somewhere, watching your favorite movie. Try this perfect soup and sammie combo when the storms are setting in and you've got a good friend or loved one to share it with!

What you'll need: The Sammies
  • 4 slices of crusty hearty bread
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup of red wine 
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of shredded reduced-fat milk sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of diced jalapeños
  • 6 slices of low sodium bacon (and low fat if you can find it!)
Sammie Recipe: Makes 2 sammies 
  1. Slice onions into thin rings and place in a heated pan over medium, coated with olive oil or cooking spray
  2. Add wine and chicken broth and bring to a low boil
  3. Reduce heat and allow the wine and broth to completely cook out (evaporate) 
  4. Remove onions from heat once fully caramelized and set aside
  5. Cook bacon in same pan over medium heat until crispy, a few minutes on each side, then set aside
  6. Wipe down pan to remove the bulk of the grease, but leave the bottom of the pan still relatively coated for extra flavor
  7. Reheat pan to medium-low with a little extra cooking spray
  8. Assemble sammies as such (spread cream cheese on each slice, add cheese, jalapeños, bacon slices, more cheese, caramelized onions, remaining slice of bread) and place in pan
  9. Allow the cheese to melt but watch carefully so as not to burn the bread
  10. Flip to cook on other side, then remove from heat, slice in half, and enjoy!

What you'll need: 
  • The Soup1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 14.5 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 8 oz cans of pureed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz of chicken stock, measured using tomato can
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Hand held immersion blender if you want a silkier texture
Soup Recipe: Serves about 4 full bowls of soup
  1. Heat small amount of olive oil in deep sauce pan over medium heat
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent
  3. Add cans of tomatoes and sauce as well as chicken broth
  4. Elevate heat to high and bring to a boil
  5. Add salt, pepper, basil, butter, sugar, red pepper flakes, and half and half
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes before using the immersion blender
  8. Reheat and enjoy!
Tenacious Tips:
  • I use fire roasted tomatoes in this recipe because they give a smokier cooked-all-day type flavor that is fantastic. But, regular diced or crushed tomatoes would work too. If you happen to have extra time, roasting your own tomatoes in your oven would be a nice homemade touch!
  • I found Cabot Cheese has lots of hormone free, all natural, reduced-fat varieties that work great for the sandwich. I used the 1% vermont white cheddar and the 2% sharp cheddar. They even have a reduced-fat jalapeño cheese too!
  • Although I just got a Vitamix last Christmas, I am still in love with my hand-held immersion blender. KitchenAid's version is super nice with lots of attachments, but on the pricey side at about $129. But, Better Chef makes a stainless steel one that is dishwasher safe and only $30 on Amazon or eBay. 
  • If you are wanting to make a vegetarian or vegan version of the sandwich, use an imitation bacon product like Smart Bacon from Light Life. Or if you just want a lighter option, try turkey bacon or sausage!


  1. Shea, your blog is so great! I'm adding this recipe into my must-make-soon collection! I can't believe I didn't know both you and Ashley were such divas in the blogosphere. Love it!! :) xoxo

  2. What a sandwich! I'll have to try this recipe- did you know April is National Grilled Cheese month!? Perfect! Thanks for the recipes and for using Cabot cheese :)

  3. Sheaaa - You've outdone yourself! This looks perfect! I'm making it asap! xx